Tonight it truly looked like the Celtics had just met for the first time and decided to play a game of pickup basketball.
Where were the plays?
There certainly didn’t appear to be any – at least any that worked – late in the fourth quarter or in overtime. Far too often the Celtics settled for off-balance jump shots or three pointers. There was too much holding on to the ball and not enough movement.
Blame Doc Rivers partially, but don’t be afraid to hand some of it over to the players who looked as if they wanted the ball to move itself.
“I thought our execution the whole game was terrible,” Rivers said. “I thought this was an awful game, except for they won. If we had won it, it would’ve been an awful game that we had won. That’s how I felt. So, just thought our execution was off all night. You know, give them credit: some of it was defense. I thought a lot of it was self-inflicted. We’ve been very good at just running the floor, ball movement, second and third options, second and third picks. Today the ball just was not – it was no fun to watch.”
Inside presence? Nope!
What did the Celtics need to do in order to win the game?
Establish a post presence, which, if you read the above on lack of execution, you already know that that didn’t happen on the offensive end. Not only did they not establish anything down low, they rarely attacked the hoop. What’s one way we know this? They took just five (five!) free throws the entire game, and zero in the second half. The Lakers took 20 and made 15, so there’s your difference in the game right there. Also, take a look at second chance points: Lakers 24, Celtics 13. A lot of that has to do with two things, positioning and effort. On the rebounding side, Andrew Bynum ripped down 17 boards (seven offensive), Pau Gasol, 14.
“The Lakers defense had a lot to do with the play,” Paul Pierce said. “They clogged the lane especially if we don’t fast break. It gets into a half court battle to where they sit there in the lane and force you to shoot jumpers.”
Lakers Big Three wins
Give it up for Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum Thursday night. Those three players outplayed Boston’s Big Three all across the board. Pau Gasol gets player of the game for scoring 25 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. But perhaps his biggest play of the game was the last one – when he blocked a Ray Allen put-back attempt that would have won it for the Celtics.
Bryant was Bryant, hitting 11 of 24 shots for a game-high 27 points. All in all though, it was an offensive struggle for both teams – which can be attributed some to great defense and poor offensive execution.
Two Bonus Kobe quotes:
On Rob Gronkowski (of Patriots): “I told him the Eagles need a tight end. I’m recruiting! He’s a freak athlete. He shouted at me, I shouted back. “
To Doc Rivers after game: “I told him his son got some big cajones! He should be very proud.”